Timed Essays

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Let’s move on today to another common college essay type namely the timed essay the time essay is arguably

one of the most common essays you’ll have to write in the college experience.

And it’s usually also for midterms or finals so some of your big grades are determined and timed essays.

The problem however is that we usually receive very little instruction on how to write a timed essay


We’re just kind of expected to know how to do it.

So today I’m going to give you some of that instruction.

And as always you feel free to ask me any questions you might have in preparation for any essays that

you have coming up.

So let’s begin with what to do before a Time essay before the exam.

The first thing is to practice answering possible essay questions.

Some professors are kind enough to give you a sample essay questions or even to give you the essay questions

in advance so that you have time to prepare your thoughts even if that is not the case you should be

able to think of especially through past experiences or asking other fellow students in a group thinking

of possible essay questions from key terms or key topics discussed throughout the course.

So practice answering those those possible essay questions and you can do this with a full essay.

So if you have time you can write out a full essay.

More likely however you would have time to do an outline and a thesis.

So those are the two most important things to prepare for a time to essay is to practice answering possible

questions by coming up with a thesis in response to that possible essay question and then outlining

your ideas accordingly.


I highly highly recommend this practice thesis statements and outlines will always pay off in the end.

What do we do though once it’s time for the timed essay.

Is time for the exam.

The first thing is to make sure we actually understand the question or the assignment being given us

here I’ve listed some of the most common terms used in timed essay questions or assignments and what

exactly they mean.

So I always suggest when you’re doing a timed essay or a timed assignment to underline these key words

in the assignment so you can look back and continue to remind yourself part of the battle of a good

time essay is doing exactly what to say or what the assignment is asking you to do.

Lots of us get writing and then we drift far away from what the original assignment was.

So if we underline these key words understanding of course what they are asking us to do then we’re

already on our way to writing a good essay in direct response to the assignment.

So we have compair which just means you need to discuss similarities contrast.

Which is to discuss differences criticize just discuss the positive and positives and negatives to define

which is where you need to make a claim about how something should be defined.

Describing characteristics that can be used to compare or contrast similar concepts discuss means to

provide the pros and cons evidence that describe strengths and weaknesses.

Explain this to describe reasons for causes of or significance of important and difficult concepts illustrate

means you need to really use concrete examples.

Interpret is where you clarify the meaning you find in the ideas or evidence you are discussing justifies

to describe why a judgment behavior or an act is rational or significant.

And finally list is where you need to write a series of events actions attributes and so on.

They worked together to explain or define something.

It’s vital to understand what these words are actually asking us to do in order for us to approach the

assignment of a timed essay effectively the most difficult part of a time essay is the timing itself.

Usually when we write we have an almost unlimited amount of time.


We have a research paper and we have weeks to do it a timed essay we have to sit down and write complete

revise everything all within a certain timeframe so when possible always begin by answering questions

that are worth the most points.

You never know if you’re going to get hung up on something and run out of time.

So always focus and answer first if possible.

Those questions that are worth them are worth the most points.

If all you’re doing is writing a single essay then you need to divide your time for each step of the

writing process.

So if you have 30 minutes to write your essay for example spend five minutes pre-writing and outlining

20 minutes drafting in five minutes revising.

OK so I always suggest make yourself go through the entire writing process even in a time essay depending

on how much time you have and how much time you think it will take you to actually write the essay a

lot the time accordingly and plan that ahead of time.


So if you know you have 15 minutes to think it out in your mind and plan how many minutes do I have

for pre-writing.

How many minutes to draft and how many minutes to revise.

Now onto the actual organization and writing of the essay.

First no matter how long the essay is again please spend a minute or two at least outline outlining

your ideas and when it comes to writing.

There are certain strategies to the writing that makes the whole process a lot easier.

First is to write double spaced so that you have room for later revisions if you need to add or delete


Don’t waste time trying to think of anything extra catchy.

And unlike other essays rather than writing a lengthy introduction begin your essay with your thesis.

OK lots of students waste a lot of time in the beginning trying to come up with a clever way of introducing

the topic with a timed essay.

Don’t waste your time doing that.

Begin your essay with your thesis.

Make sure to avoid unnecessary information or details right so you have no time for for filling in information

that is unnecessary.

Stick only into those direct necessary information and details that you need.

Present your ideas directly and always give concrete evidence to support your ideas.

Use examples and explanations in careful analysis.

Don’t restate or repeat your thesis over and over again throughout your essay.

Instead use your examples to show how your thesis is true.

Remember that each paragraph should address one specific part of your thesis and it’s very important

for a time essay just as it isn’t any writing.

But especially for a time to see to use clear topic sentences to emphasize your main points.

And remember topic sentences are those first sentences of each of your paragraphs.

So out of all these little tips I think the most important one because it’s different than other writing

is to begin with your thesis and then to remember that you need to provide examples and explanations

but those as always should never outweigh your own analysis.

The biggest mistake I see in timed essays and my students writing is that students suddenly forget that

the more narrow their thesis is the better.

And students begin writing big general summaries of topics and themes rather than like any other writing


Digging in deep into one narrow idea or topic or theme.

So with your thesis statement stated right at the very beginning make sure that it hits deep into a

narrow topic within the broader assignment.

OK that will be the the biggest step to a really really good time to see and finally save yourself a

couple of minutes to revise.

And as always go big and then small so catch an inconsistency in your argument.

Find if there are areas that you should have given evidence so omissions of evidence or significant


Remember that it’s OK to cross out and rewrite and add sentences even paragraphs as long as you direct

your reader accordingly.

And you don’t have to be super neat about it right you don’t have to use Wite-Out simply scratched out

with your pen and finally check for minor mechanical errors.

So at the very end the last minute or two quickly skim through for grammar spelling and punctuation


And last but not least submit it and take a nice deep sigh of relief.

And if you follow these tips and strategies you prepare well by answering practice exam questions by

building practice outlines and thesis statements.

If you begin with a very narrow and strong thesis statement rather than a lengthy introduction.

If you focus and keep your paragraphs and topic sentences of your paragraphs directly related to your

thesis and if you give yourself time to work through each step of this writing process in the Time essay

you’re going to do incredible and I know that time the essays give students a lot of stress and anxiety.

So if you have one coming up and have any questions or concerns.

Shoot me an email we’ll see if we can clear it up right away and get you ready.

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